Ban downs Jonson for PNGA Amateur trophy

Shotaro Ban defeats Carl Jonson, 5 and 4, for the championship Saturday.

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WALLA WALLA - Shotaro Ban defeated Carl Jonson, 5 and 4 in the championship match of the 111th Pacific Northwest Men's Amateur Championship at Wine Valley Golf Club Saturday.

The 36-hole finale was delayed 70 minutes by thunderstorms Saturday morning, but once it began Ban, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, won six of the first eight holes. He eagled the 625-yard par-5 eighth hole, and shot a 4-under 32 on the first nine for a 6-up lead.

Jonson, a sophomore at UNLV, three-putted two of the first three holes, and found himself down by eight after 13 holes.

"Yes, definitely not a good start," said Jonson. "I was hitting good shots but kept finding myself on the wrong side of the hole. I basically gave him three holes right away and I felt the match hadn't even started yet."

Jonson didn't stop Ban's momentum until the par-3 14th hole. Hitting second, Jonson put his tee shot 8 feet behind the hole, then drained the birdie putt to win his first hole of the day.

Jonson birdied four of the next seven holes to cut into Ban's lead, and they stood on the tee of the 22nd hole, a 390-yard par-4, with Ban's lead only 2-up.

"Yes, the momentum definitely had swung in (Jonson's) favor," said Ban. "He got his putter going, and starting hitting his iron shots closer. I wasn't doing anything different, but he sure was."

"I was proud of myself for keeping my focus," said Jonson. "I knew I had been playing well, and I guess I needed to trust that it would happen. But I give credit to Ban. He really did hit the shots today."

Ban birdied the 22nd hole to stop Jonson's charge, then nearly holed his chip for another eagle on the par-5 25th hole (the same hole he had eagled earlier in the day).

After Jonson three-putted the 27th hole, Ban's lead was back to 4-up.

On the par-3 32nd hole, both players hit the green in regulation, and when Ban two-putted from 15 feet for par to halve the hole, he closed out the match, 5 and 4.

Jonson and Ban each posted a pair of victories on a calm Friday that saw temperatures settle somewhat after a four-day stretch that saw vicious thunderstorms twice delay play on Monday and was followed by oppressive heat Tuesday through Thursday.

Jonson turned away longshot Blake Snyder of Seattle, the 56th seed, 4 and 3 in the quarterfinals and nipped No. 5 seed Nicholas Chianello of Gresham, Ore., 1-up in the semifinals.

Ban was a 4 and 3 winner over Jarred Bossio of Olympia, the 47th seed, in Friday morning's quarterfinals and a 2 and 1 semifinal victor over Rak Cho of Eugene, Ore., who entered Wednesday's match-play portion of the tournament seeded 46th after two rounds of medal-play qualifying early in the week.

Chianello fought his way into the semifinals Friday with a 3 and 1 victory over 13th seed Mason Casper of Mapleton, Utah. Cho defeated Ryan Books of Seattle 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals, ending Books' magical run as the 59th seed.

Jonson never trailed Snyder in the morning round, taking the lead on the fifth hole and building his advantage to 4-up after 11 holes. But against Chianello, an Oregon State University senior and the reigning Oregon Amateur champion, it was another matter.

Jonson held a three-hole lead after 11 holes, but Chianello came back to win 12th and 15th holes to close to within one hole. That score held until the players approached the 568-yard par-5 18th.

When Chianello's drive found the deep rough and Jonson's split the middle of the fairway 358 yards downrange, it looked all but over. But Chianello dug his second shot out of the tall grass and to the fringe of the green.

Jonson then hit the shot of the day as he nearly found the bottom of the cup from 210 yards away. The ball rolled 12 feet past the hole, and when Chianello's chip was wide of the hole Jonson two-putted for a birdie and the 1-up victory.

"I have a little history with that hole," Jonson admitted later of the 18th hole. He triple-bogeyed the hole during Monday's first qualifying rounds.

Jonson also has a history with the PNGA. His father, Ed Jonson, won this championship in 1974, his great uncle Carl Jonson, who whom he's named, and his grandfather, Ernie Jonson, are both members of the PNGA Hall of Fame.

Friday's other semifinal matched a pair of rising Pacific-12 Conference stars. But Ban, who plays at the University of California, and Cho, from the University of Oregon, had never met head-to-head.

"I knew he was a really good player," Ban said of Cho. "I knew I wasn't going to run away with anything out there."

The turning point came on a stretch of holes as the two players made the turn.

Trailing by two holes, Cho won the ninth hole, then put his second shot on the fringe of the green and within 20 feet of the cup at No. 10, a 610-yard par-5. Ban, meanwhile, found himself in a greenside bunker on his third shot.

But Ban blasted out and sank a 7-foot downhill putt to save par while Cho three-putted for par.

"I got away with that one," Ban said of the 10th. "That downhill putt, that was not the place to be."

Ban birdied the next hole to regain a two-hole lead, which he took to the 17th tee. When his second shot on the 402-yard par-4 settled 10 feet from the cup and Cho sailed his second shot well over the green, the match was all but decided.

PNGA Amateur

At Wine Valley Golf Club

Walla Walla

Saturday's Results

Championship Match

Shotaro Ban, San Jose, Calif., def Carl Jonson, Bainbridge Island, Wash., 5 and 4

Friday's Results

Quarterfinals

Carl Johnson, Bainbridge Island, Wash., def Blake Snyder, Seattle, 4 and 3

Nicholas Chianello, Gresham, Ore., def Mason Casper, Mapleton, Utah, 3 and 1

Shotaro Ban, San Jose, Calif., def Jared Bossio, Olympia, Wash., 2 and 1

Rak Cho, Eugene, Ore., def Ryan Books, Seattle, 2 and 1

Semifinals

Carl Johnson, Bainbridge Island, Wash., def Nicholas Chianello, Gresham, Ore., 1-up

Shotaro Ban, San Jose, Calif., def Rak Cho, Eugene, Ore., 2 and 1

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